Famous for its natural beauty, magnificent châteaux and picturesque towns, the Loire Valley is the third most popular tourist destination in France. However it is also renowned for the exceptional quality, variety and affordability of its wine. The length of the river, and the varied terrain, geology and climates through which it flows, make the Loire Valley one of the few regions in France to produce excellent wines of every variety. Red, white or rosé, still or sparkling, dry or sweet, the Loire Valley wines are among the best of their kinds.
The cool climate of the Loire almost insures that the wines, no matter how ripe, will always have a lean acidity that balances well with their fruit and alcohol. Although many Loire Valley wines age beautifully, most can be appreciated young. They show their best qualities with food, and they possess enough flavor and body to stand up to almost all styles of cooking.
An enormous amount of wine is created in this vast region, mostly white, but with a good deal of red too. Styles change as you follow the course of the river, according to the grape varieties planted and wine-making techniques practiced. But the one thing all of these wines share is that they are made to display freshness and relatively high acidity, and rarely is oak used to ferment or age the wines.
The Loire has a large number of different grape varieties, some of which dominate different parts of the region. They include:
• Muscadet which dominates the western Loire, making dry white wines
• Chenin Blanc which is the great grape of the middle Loire, with red wines made from Cabernet Franc
• Sauvignon Blanc which is the star of the upper Loire. Reds are made from the Pinot Noir
The Vouvray appellation covers dry, moderately dry and sweet whites made exclusively from Chenin Blanc (known locally as Pineau de la Loire). Bernard Fouquet of Domaine des Aubuisiers is making some of the most serious Vouvray of the last few vintages. He is now regarded in France and the international press as one of the top three Vouvray producers, and his wines represent sensational value. No one succeeds better than Bernard in capturing the mineral tones unique to Vouvray’s soil, with the marvelous balance of explosive fruit and titillating sensation of the Chenin Blanc grape.
Brought to us by on of our favorite importers, Peter Wygendt, the Aubuisiers Vouvray has been a favorite on our shelves for years. I was really taken with the amazing concentration and minerality of the 2005 vintage, and while I liked the 2006 and 2007, they were never quite what the '05 was. But the 2008 vintage delivers, maybe even more so than the 2005, and I am really excited to have this wine back in the store!
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate says 92 pts: "Bernard Fouquet’s 2008 Vouvray Cuvee Silex was not picked until October 8 (and then at over 13% natural alcohol) and it shows in a wine whose combination of ripeness, hint of botrytis, and brightness puts me in mind of 1996. Lychee, yellow cherry, Mirabelle, quince, and narcissus in the nose lead to a musky, subtly oily, chalk-inflected, honeyed, yet incisively zesty palate. This combines richness and palpably high extract with cut and invigoration in a way that only Chenin (and then only in the Central Loire) can. Its 6 grams of residual sugar perfectly set off the yellow fruits and hint of honey in this wine’s long finish. This formidably-concentrated yet elegant wine is worth following for at least half a dozen years."
Try this wine at our Friday Free For All tasting this week!